Song for Mary Oliver on her 80th birthday in Florida 

As we say in Ireland,

“You’re one of us Mary,

you’re a chip off the old block.”

I came across you recently

when I was looking for something

– like a better life –

(not even sure what it was).

Not even sure what it felt like

the day I opened the door to you

and you came into the kitchen.

Almost certainly, it was raining.

You see, I’d never have written

“You don’t have to like oysters”

if it wasn’t for the sound of your voice

– the way you didn’t just sit in the chair

opposite me, but got out of the chair

and sat on my lap.

Every now and again, daemon-like,

you’d change form (not substance).

You’d hop on my shoulder.

A whelk, a blue iris, a river, a goose

(Oh no, not a river, another creature.)

Not only was this a new experience for me,

it was an old experience, returned

to poke the cinders

to see if any of them still glowed.

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